Friends – The Family We Choose (Psalm 68:6)
Many of us were blessed to be born into a loving, caring family; some of us were not so fortunate. But there is a family into which we can be
I love my earthly family. I was born into a Christian home and have known God all my life. As I grew up, my family separated to different parts of the United States to raise their own families, and I stayed close to where I was born. Do I miss day-to-day activities with members of my birth family? Absolutely!
But I have others nearby who have become part of my circle of friends. I found these wonderful, dear friends in the family of God where I worship. We share faith in God, as well as similar likes and dislikes, goals and aspirations. I have reached out to share my life with these friends, and together our friendships have formed a chosen family—a family in which trust, caring, love and acceptance have flourished, just as in my birth family.
I believe God smiles on us as we work and play together. Laugh and cry together. Strive and thrive together. We are his family, his friends. We belong to him and to one another as we live as friends and “family.” I am so happy we are his friends—his chosen family.
Taken from NIV Fulfilled
When God Goes Against His Will
But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for the Lord desired to put them to death. (1 Samuel 2:25)
There are three implications of this text for our lives.
1) It is possible to sin so long and so grievously that the Lord will not grant repentance.
That is why Paul said that after all our pleading and teaching, “God may grant them repentance” — not, “will grant them repentance” (2 Timothy 2:25). There is a “too late” in the life of sin. As it says of Esau in Hebrews 12:17, “He found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.” He was forsaken; he could not repent.
This does not mean that those who truly repent even after a whole lifetime of sinning cannot be saved. They certainly can be, and will be! God is staggeringly merciful. Witness the thief on the cross: “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).
2) God may not permit a sinning person to do what is right.
“But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for the Lord desired to put them to death.” Listening to the voice of their father was the right thing to do. But they would not. Why? “For the Lord desired to put them to death.”
The reason given for why they did not obey their father was that God had other purposes for them, and had given them up to sinning and death. This shows that there are times when the will of God’s decree is different from the revealed will of God’s command.
3) Sometimes our prayers for God’s revealed will to be done will not be done because God has decreed something different for holy and wise purposes.
I suppose that Eli prayed for his sons to be changed. That is how he should have prayed. But God had decreed that Hophni and Phinehas not obey, but rather be slain.
When something like this happens (which we do not ordinarily know ahead of time) while we are crying out to God for change, the answer of God is not: “I don’t love you.” Rather the answer is: “I have wise and holy purposes in not overcoming this sin and not granting repentance. You do not see these purposes now. Trust me. I know what I am doing. I love you.”
Job continues to struggle to understand the reason for his suffering. He imagines presenting his case before God in court.
God’s Ways Don’t Make Sense
“If someone wanted to take God to court, would it be possible to answer him even once in a thousand times? For God is so wise and so mighty. Who has ever challenged him successfully? . . .
Job knew that God didn’t owe him anything. Job was alive by the grace of God, even if he was suffering. Job also believed that he had not sinned in a way to deserve such suffering.
Job didn’t think his life warranted such suffering, so he wanted his case presented before God (Job 9:32-35). He recognized, however, that arguing with God would be futile and unproductive (Job 9:4). Job knew that in bringing his case against God, he would only sin by falsely accusing God. “Though I am innocent, my own mouth would pronounce me guilty.”
When we face hardships, whether big or small, we can become indignant, believing that we did nothing to deserve them. Job’s attitude can guide us here. We must be careful to avoid accusing God or believing we’re right and he’s wrong. God is always right, even if we can’t understand our own circumstances. God is always right. Period.
Like Job, we must live in the fear of the Lord. That wisdom will keep us from sinning. That wisdom will cultivate humility for the times when God’s ways don’t make sense.
Streams in the Desert – May 30
And they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one was able to learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been redeemed from the earth. (Rev 14:3)
There are songs which can only be learned in the valley. No art can teach them; no rules of voice can make them perfectly sung. Their music is in the heart. They are songs of memory, of personal experience. They bring out their burden from the shadow of the past; they mount on the wings of yesterday.
St. John says that even in Heaven there will be a song that can only be fully sung by the sons of earth—the strain of redemption. Doubtless it is a song of triumph, a hymn of victory to the Christ who made us free. But the sense of triumph must come from the memory of the chain.
No angel, no archangel can sing it so sweetly as I can. To sing it as I sing it, they must pass through my exile, and this they cannot do. None can learn it but the children of the Cross.
And so, my soul, thou art receiving a music lesson from thy Father. Thou art being educated for the choir invisible. There are parts of the symphony that none can take but thee.
There are chords too minor for the angels. There may be heights in the symphony which are beyond the scale—heights which angels alone can reach; but there are depths which belong to thee, and can only be touched by thee.
Thy Father is training thee for the part the angels cannot sing; and the school is sorrow. I have heard many say that He sends sorrow to prove thee; nay, He sends sorrow to educate thee, to train thee for the choir invisible.
In the night He is preparing thy song. In the valley He is tuning thy voice. In the cloud He is deepening thy chords. In the rain He is sweetening thy melody. In the cold He is moulding thy expression. In the transition from hope to fear He is perfecting thy lights.
Despise not thy school of sorrow, O my soul; it will give thee a unique part in the universal song.
“Is the midnight closing round you?
Are the shadows dark and long?
Ask Him to come close beside you,
And He’ll give you a new, sweet song.
He’ll give it and sing it with you;
And when weakness lets it down,
He’ll take up the broken cadence,
And blend it with His own.
“And many a rapturous minstrel
Among those sons of light,
Will say of His sweetest music
’I learned it in the night.’
And many a rolling anthem,
That fills the Father’s home,
Sobbed out its first rehearsal,
In the shade of a darkened room.”